Concealed carry: Where and when?
A couple of months back, Dan Marcou penned a piece here on PoliceOne related to retiree concealed carry under the Law Enforcement Officer’s Safety Act. I won’t repeat his valuable information here, but thought I would cover some pertinent off-duty carry topics we discuss with newly graduated officers, as well as retirees who carry concealed.
For active officers carrying off duty, know the limits of your enforcement authority. Some states grant all peace officers in that state full enforcement authority state-wide, but many others do not. Most states grant statewide felony arrest powers to their peace officers, but “common law” generally allows any citizen to make an arrest for a felony. Who can ever forget Gomer Pyle executing a citizen’s arrest of Deputy Barney Fife in Mayberry?
Read up on your statutes and decide right now just how far you will go to make an arrest while off-duty. If lives are in danger, your level of involvement seems clear, but what about a robbery with no harm being inflicted? Still, if a criminal is armed with a deadly weapon, harm could occur at any moment ... make your decision now and pre-program it on your hard drive.
I’m not proposing an answer to this question, only suggesting the time to make those decisions is now, not when it is happening before your eyes. If a direct threat is posed to you, a family member or an innocent citizen around you, the answer seems simple – you should act. Such a threat is the very reason you are exercising your right to carry.
Off-Limits Areas and Storage Considerations
Though you might have heard differently, LEOSA does not require you to follow the same rules as a state-issued concealed carry permit in a given state. This fact was established in South Dakota in 2008 when an out-of-state officer shot an outlaw biker in a bar fracas during the annual Sturgis run. A local prosecutor charged the officer with violating the South Dakota concealed carry rule which prohibits permit holders from carrying in a liquor-serving establishment. The charges were summarily dismissed because the officers were covered under LEOSA, which does not prohibit you from carrying in a liquor establishment, although the federal law does forbid you from carrying while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Think ahead to what you will need when required to off-load a weapon, such as stopping by the US Post Office to mail a package (LEOSA says you can’t carry in a federal or state government building).
PoliceOne Contributor Tim Dees wrote a few months back about the Nano-vault for weapon storage. I found one on sale at Midway USA for less than $20 and keep it cabled to the seat bracket in my pickup, allowing me to secure my pistol when I reach a no-carry spot. The Nano-vault will double as a TSA-approved lockable container for packing your pistol away in checked baggage when traveling. At home I have installed a small digital-lock safe in a cabinet near my rear exit door. The one I bought was on sale for $29.95 at the local Harbor Freight store — damned cheap insurance against a visiting child getting their hands on a weapon.
Train Your Families
Keeping with the “Coaching Forward” theory of only using simple, positive commands, train your family members to “Follow Me!” Drill them at home to obey this command instantly, following behind you with any small children physically holding hands to avoid leaving one behind. You will lead the way to safety, possibly with a gun in-hand, moving steadily at a speed even the smallest can manage. If you are alone with a small child when a threat appears, your options are VERY limited. Escape is by far your best option in this case and deadly force may only be appropriate if the threat comes directly to you.
The second family scenario is one where you have chosen to engage a threat. In this instance, you may quickly become a bullet magnet, so your family must be elsewhere. I train another simple command for this eventuality, “Call it In!”
When you issue the “Call it In” command the family member is to move away to safety and call 911, reporting the circumstances, the fact that you are involved (using descriptive terms like “armed off-duty officer,” or “armed retired officer”), and your description. If your significant other or oldest child is capable they can assume command of the family’s evacuation, issuing their own “Follow Me” order to the group. Knowing your family is headed for safety will free you to engage the threat or help with the evacuation or treatment of others.
Going armed in society is not to be undertaken lightly and some officers choose not to carry off-duty or when they are retired. But, some of us wouldn’t ever consider going unarmed. There is no single correct answer on this quiz. If you choose to go armed, pre-make some deadly force decisions NOW and program them onto your hard drive for quick access under stress. Jump though all the legal hoops and go to the range more than just for the annual qualification shoot.
Next month I’ll discuss what weapon to carry and how to conceal it effectively.
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